Google Updates Link Schemes Examples With Mentions Of Guest Posting, Advertorials & Press Releases

Jul 29, 2013 • 9:22 am | comments (89) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

google link schemesOn Friday, I wrote at Search Engine Land Google Warns Against Large-Scale Guest Posting, Advertorials & "Optimized Anchor Text" In Press Releases. In short, Google has updated their link schemes document specifically citing three new topics:

(1) Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links

(2) Advertorials or native advertising where payment is received for articles that include links that pass PageRank

(3) Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites.

Since the story broke late Friday, it might have been missed by many SEOs. Despite that, the story does have over 60 comments right now and growing.

Why are SEOs up in arms about these changes?

Well, it is mostly around the "Links with optimized anchor text" phrase. This is what link builders were all about. Getting links with "optimized anchor text" and now, at least within "articles or press releases distributed on other sites" that is dead. Well, where else do you get "optimized anchor text" where it matters, expect off site on articles or press releases all on other sites? Of course, internal links matter but as much as external links?

Does this mean link building is dead?

For more details on the before and after, read my story at Search Engine Land.

Forum discussion at Google+ & Threadwatch.

Image credit to BigStockPhoto for link icon

Previous story: Using Google's Similar & Related Search Features For SEO



07/29/2013 01:43 pm

I have two questions. Are links with anchor texts not important in search engine rankings? And if they still do, what are the ways to gain them after these update? According to a latest survey published on MOZ, websites that have links with optimized anchor texts still rank higher than the websites that believe in natural linking.


07/29/2013 01:58 pm

So it means only generic keywords should be used for getting backlinks ?Or direct links to domain .Mostly sites those are ranking in top 10 have most backlinks for their keywords.Iam totally confused.


07/29/2013 02:07 pm

link building is dead for some time...


07/29/2013 02:28 pm

Quality link building will never be dead. Links still account for almost 30% of the reason why a site ranks.


07/29/2013 02:36 pm

Of course, Rick, but that to me is not link building anymore, it's relationship building. To get a good link from an editorially controlled source you need to get in there...


07/29/2013 02:56 pm

for anyone who is saying "link building is dead" you're doing it wrong then. Keep using methods that worked 10 years ago. I will enjoy ranking for everything I try to rank for. Quality not quantity folks, learn how to adapt.


07/29/2013 02:57 pm

not doing it wrong...just not doing it :-)


07/29/2013 03:06 pm

People are being upset that there $5 link building packages are no longer having any effect. You CAN in fact build links and be totally within googles guidelines. What if I told you that you can build links in a totally ethical manner that also provide free traffic and improve your rankings? All you have to do is tell people about your website in a non spammy fashion.


07/29/2013 03:10 pm

I agree with you the fiverr tactics are dead, and agree with Rick further down the page... Link building for me is dead - long live relationship building (to get quality links)

Graham Ginsberg

07/29/2013 03:50 pm

Goodbye SEO hello Adwords Just check yourself how most savy companies have just recently realized this and massively upped their daily PPC budget at The SEO world 'partnered' with Google and got it started, now they're grovelling for crumbs

Graham Ginsberg

07/29/2013 03:56 pm

"You CAN in fact build links and be totally within googles guidelines" - You're in denial. An thats not a river in Egypt :-) If your link is not by a legitimate 'friend' link, that Google trusts and knows intimately, you're a common violator like many others. Google knows who your real friends are. Its smaaart that way.

Graham Ginsberg

07/29/2013 03:58 pm

Yes, links give authority to sites. 2 types of websites exist since the Google Zoo started: Sites that got identified as a violator Sites that will be identified as a violator

Jordan Fried

07/29/2013 04:11 pm

This is a comical conversation. You can still link build, just don't overdo it and keep it kosher. Anyone who says "link building is dead" never understood how to properly do SEO in the first place.

Graham Ginsberg

07/29/2013 04:19 pm

Fools every one of them. Thats until you get caught

David Eaves

07/29/2013 05:01 pm

I just noticed the part where it says about optimised forum signature links and I have just gone out and fixed them all - was that there before last week?

Barry Ricks

07/29/2013 05:08 pm

It's not dead but people need to look at it differently, or they might die in the business world. One way to link build is to optimize your Social Media Marketing. You can build some awesome links through your social media, but that also comes down to one big thing. Create content that is worth sharing and that people will want to link to. Thanks Barry for the read.

James Perrin

07/29/2013 05:13 pm

Optimized anchor text, advertorials, mass scale guest posting - all good SEOs knew this ages ago, so it's really no surprise. As a lot of people have already mentioned, good link building is not about these techniques anyway. On that note, it's still crucial, and importantly, it still works - when done correctly.

PM Fiorini

07/29/2013 05:26 pm

It seems to me Matt Cutts and the SPAM team need a vacation. They need to get a real life, and a real job. They need to leave the Internet alone and stop screwing it up.

the coon

07/29/2013 06:30 pm

ok so keep using sape links to rank fast??

I LOVE Google

07/29/2013 06:52 pm

If there is nothing left for the AVERAGE SEO (and that is most of them) to pick out of google, they will be pushing their clients to rank on Bing etc. With that push google WILL lose traction and in not so long a time from now, google will not be in the search engine game. I hope that time comes sooner for everyone. The internet will be a much better place without google lording it.


07/29/2013 07:49 pm

bad news bing is the future....

David DuVal

07/29/2013 08:07 pm

Yet, google can't identify a huge directory network that hacks into PR 8 to 10 hospital and university sites, harnesses the pagerank, and sells listings on their directories! They were reported 7 months ago and have well over 100 pagerank 6 to 9 directories, which basically put many honest directory owners out of business.


07/29/2013 08:23 pm

Just waiting for the day any and all linking is negative SEO.

Courtney Miller

07/29/2013 08:57 pm

You are kidding right? Google is their life, it is their job, we are living in their world. This isn't the internet this is Google.


07/29/2013 11:36 pm

stop waiting

Guy E

07/29/2013 11:45 pm

Link building will never die; anchor-text will never die.. black-hatters will still churn & burn sites, that will pretty much never change.. especially in niches such as gambling & finance where there's a very high ROI even for a short-term website

Myles Harris

07/30/2013 12:33 am

Should the line "Widely distributed links in the footers of various sites" worry web designers if they don't use rel="nofollow"?

Jessica In

07/30/2013 01:09 am

These days I read all the article about this topic,I really don't know google want to do what!!! If we can do nothing on link building,what should we do for promotion our site!SEM or other way?But I still think good link building is a very important method!!


07/30/2013 03:25 am

Hey ..My blog is open for guest posts but only for quality guest posts. Generally i used to avoid making exact anchor links but sometimes on the request of author i create such anchor link... is that thing harm my blog as well ?


07/30/2013 03:28 am

I do agree with the point "Make your content very informative so that it can worth sharing and back linking."


07/30/2013 03:41 am

Good News for us at least we can get rid Google as such Search engine network Yakhhh...!

khalid Shaikh

07/30/2013 04:27 am

Hi may i know what PR site you have?


07/30/2013 04:31 am

It doesn't seem to have PR but that question right there is why google will be jumping on guest posting hard.


07/30/2013 04:40 am

Its a bit new techie blog. My blog is just 4 months old. so don't have any PR now. In fact i waiting for the PR update :( Is Google Penalty depends on site PR ?


07/30/2013 04:41 am

Its really tough to understand Google. Google is getting tougher from last two years.. I don't know what exactly Google wants ?

Soni Sharma

07/30/2013 04:45 am

It will be great if Google stops counting external links from other sites in their Algo. Because putting rel=nofollow for all links is not right way. Google should only include trust and quality factor for ranking sites. Not even content because many people spin the content and hide content from web page that doesn't make sense for real users.

Alan Smith

07/30/2013 05:47 am

Now simple way to be in SERP , go for natural linkbuilding


07/30/2013 06:22 am

R.I.P Link building

Justin Clark

07/30/2013 06:59 am

It seems your blog has been penalized by Google.


07/30/2013 07:40 am

Finally, somebody with a sensible comment. This place is full of people who don't have a clue about what they're commenting on.


07/30/2013 09:53 am

I think the world is a better place cos of need to be upset if you are not getting a share of the pie.


07/30/2013 11:21 am

Fcuk Google, fcuk Mutt Cutts and his shills. Google wants everyone to use Adwords. Stop begging for crumbs from Google and promote non-Google search engines, like DD and Bing. Google wants to penalize every site so they use adwords and can;t tell why their traffic was cut off since everyone is "guilty."

Justin Clark

07/30/2013 11:40 am

Google just want to run a paid campaign through the ad-word program.

Justin Clark

07/30/2013 11:40 am

you well said..

Stephen Moyers

07/30/2013 12:26 pm

Along with natural link building we also need to give equivalent weight age to Social Media as well.


07/30/2013 12:34 pm

Yes, it's like a (paid) link scheme...either the web developers have just put the link in the footer without editorial control of the site owner...or Google may see it as - we put a link there and you pay a bit either way it needs to be nofollowed.

Joe Bergess

07/30/2013 01:06 pm

Google wants to try and get their users the best possible results, and unfortunately, many people have manipulated the SERPs through link building schemes instead of organic, high quality content. Yes, it is easier - and cheaper - to pay a few hundred bucks to have a few thousand links to your site. But that also means that everyone can do the same thing, regardless of quality content or if the site is even worth being on top ranked results. Whether or not we like Google - or agree with their tactics - we either have to comply with Google's guidelines, or we aren't listed with the #1 search engine on the planet, it's that simple.

Joe Bergess

07/30/2013 01:08 pm

Totally agree. Fresh content on Social Media should be given a higher value than content that's aged. Organic link building isn't the easiest think to do, but it's safer and longer lasting.

Joe Bergess

07/30/2013 01:10 pm

Google's top metrics right now revolve around Social Media. For example, every +1 on Google Plus, or a single Facebook share is worth about a single backlink to Google. Their top 7 metrics are all revolving around Social Media - so I would suggest SMO, keeping a site blog with fresh, relevant, SEO-optimized content, and go from there.

Joe Bergess

07/30/2013 01:16 pm

This really doesn't come as a surprise. The majority of white-hat SEO experts abandoned link building schemes over a year ago. Google's really pushing people towards high quality content, Social Media activity, and organic, natural link-building. Unfortunately, the clamp down on optimized anchor text is going to hurt organic and paid links alike. I don't believe that this alone should penalize a site, just don't count it. Sites often can't control what anchor texts are being used, and some are going to be optimized. Just my two cents, though.


07/30/2013 02:37 pm

"Google wants to try and get their users the best possible results" Take a hike loser. Google wants to increase PPC prices and ad clicks

Barry Ricks

07/30/2013 02:39 pm

Thanks, so what tactics or tools do you use to help you with your content creation?

Joe Bergess

07/30/2013 02:44 pm

I agree, I do believe they want to generate as much revenue as possible with PPC and Adwords, for sure. They have to be careful though, people won't visit or use a search engine that's just comprised of ads.

Stephen Dow

07/30/2013 02:47 pm

How can you possible state that you know Google's metrics now "revolve" around social media? That's ludicrous. While they can measure blogs and blog comments, they can't measure shares made using smartphone/tablet share functions, nor any made through FB or Twitter. In addition, I've yet to see a Facebook or Twitter post show up in their results? Do you realize that Google can't even index FB or Twitter content (noindex on robots.txt)? Let's get real.

Joe Bergess

07/30/2013 02:52 pm

Actually, it's Google that states the importance of each metric that determines SERPs. Secondly, Google has been tracking social metrics for over 2 years. Take a look at this Moz article from 2011: Thirdly, Google doesn't need to index an entire site or it's content to measure interactions. Each network uses a different system, but this has been going on for years. You can read more here, from Google's Developers, on how it's done:

sunil kumar

07/30/2013 02:55 pm

after this update can anyone tell me what is remaining part in SEO...Google Panda hit the onpage elements, Google Penguin hits off page elements and rest all hits by this (Link Schemes Examples With Mentions Of Guest Posting, Advertorials & Press Releases) update. so i think SEO will be DEAD after one or two years and all online business will be fight on Google Adwords and lastly Google will get the revenue from Adwords......

Stephen Dow

07/30/2013 03:13 pm

I realize they've been "tracking" social metrics for some time. But what they can track is pitifully little if they cannot index the major social sites. This is obvious. So how could Google even know how to "value" such limited social media metrics.. Heck, they only have full access to Google+ results (which they already skew in their favor for users of that platform). That's fair, ey? Read about that on As for your second point, they can only track FB pages "likes", "talking about this" and "whose visited" info (and show the page itself). Wow, that's awesome input for them to have. Heck FB metrics are pitiful by themselves? In other words, THEY don't even know how to measure what they see! As for your third point, setting up a Google Analytics account for analyzing "social impact" has nothing to do with what Google and social media. They simply cannot analyze and use sharing and reach metrics from the major social networks. This means they essentially have little ability to use them in search.

Joe Bergess

07/30/2013 03:32 pm

#1/#2 - The tracking capabilities of Google are limited, since they don't / can't index content on the major sites, save for G+, like you mentioned. Google stated - actually, they've stated it a number of times - that they consider Shares, Likes, Interactions, Comments, etc. on Facebook a sign that a page / website is higher in quality, otherwise, why would people engage or share their content? Google explains the why and how of the value of their social metrics better than either of us could. Secondly, over the past 2 years, SMO has a profound impact on SERPS. I have 4 client sites whose entire SEO strategy revolves around SMO, and they're all in top ranks for their keywords. (Are you pointing me to a specific article on Moz, or just linking to their site in general?) #3 - You missed the point. Analytics is part of Google. If I can setup and measure social interactions, impact, etc. in Analytics, don't you think Google can and does?

I LOVE Google

07/30/2013 03:46 pm

Fanboys are all around us... Go fanboy go!!!!! Only very STUPID people would think that no competition is good. Only VERY STUPID! As for pie, Matt looks like he has been eating a little too much of it lately.

John Schwartz

07/30/2013 03:58 pm

Google measures FB shares all the time - it's one of their top ranking factors. Do your research before you comment about something you clearly know nothing about.

Jason Higgins

07/30/2013 04:03 pm

"Take a hike loser. Google wants to increase PPC prices and ad clicks" way to root your opinion in professionalism and facts. I can see why you use a guest account.


07/30/2013 04:08 pm

"...we either have to comply with Google's guidelines, or we aren't listed..." Did someone forget to tell the blackhats this? ;) I agreed the panda update(s) but it seems to me that the Penguin updates hurt more SMB's then any real "cheaters".

Stephen Dow

07/30/2013 04:09 pm

First (#1 and #2): Then you agree that Google has little social media info to analyze. Thus, I would say again that the actual impact of social media on search can be minimal at best. Second, I'm glad you have had success with social for clients. As for mine only a couple have had good success (in driving traffic to their site). However, I have never heard anyone attribute high rankings to a dominant social media strategy. Please explain further how this was determined? Just referencing Moz in general. Don't need links to any articles for this discussion. Third (#3). I didn't miss the point at all. The measurement capabilities in Google Analytics for social offer you/me no more information to Google than I already referenced. Also, Google does NOT infiltrate specific analytics accounts to gleen additional social information FOR that account. Even if they did, once again there's little there to help social search for their algorithm. Heck, social based search on Bing is barbaric at this point, and they're a good search engine - with FULL access to FB data?

Joe Bergess

07/30/2013 04:10 pm

I totally agree. It's rough to be a 1-10 person company and handle all your SEO and website, and try and keep on top of everything. Then Google rolls out an update and potentially kills your rankings. Especially when they penalize you for things they told you to do a few years back. PS. I think the black hats are on a different mailing list for memos. :P

Joe Bergess

07/30/2013 04:16 pm

First - Yes, and no. I 100% agree that in comparison to the content on the sites, they have absurdly little to analyze. I do believe that what they are tracking (shares, likes, etc) does help determine higher quality sites, but that's just my own personal opinion. Second - A few different ways. A lot of SMO affects SEO in indirect ways. For example, if a site becomes prominent on Facebook, gains lots of likes/fans/shares, then you gain traffic which helps SEO. However, with 3 clients, we did nothing but focus on SMO for about 6 months. Traffic only saw about a 10% increase, conversion rate (for 2) increase by about 8%, and rankings for keywords in SERPs climbed to near-top. The same keywords were used in posts, hashtags, etc. on SM platforms. Third - Actually, I was the one that missed YOUR point, sorry about that. Yes, I totally agree, the link I pointed to does only track the metrics you mentioned, which is all Google has access to at this point. As far as Bing / FB, I'll be interested to see how it evolves over time, since the graph search is pretty new at this point. Edit: We used specific keywords in the anchor text of links, along with Hashtags. I'm unsure how much of an impact each specific tactic has on their algorithm (or if they can even see Hashtags), but all the tactics combined gave us definite results.


07/30/2013 04:48 pm

LOL. Agreed.


07/30/2013 05:36 pm

google become unnatural search engine. If some guy will make website, him never will know what keyword rich anchors is unnatural by google version. Just google become totally unnatural search engine.


07/30/2013 05:37 pm

google against the rules of the life, humanity and nature itself!


07/30/2013 05:39 pm

google not need it. they need only wikipedia for informational queries, news & few forums. youtube & adwords get rest of traffic. best possibly results - it just a fairy tale for us, just to give a some kind of bone for us.

Joe Bergess

07/30/2013 06:11 pm

Links with optimized anchor text in *articles or press releases distributed on other sites* are the ones being clamped down on - not all links with optimized anchor text.

Yogita Aggarwal

07/31/2013 06:37 am

No .. its not penalized . Its a new blog thats why i am waiting for the first PR update for my blog.


07/31/2013 07:37 am

I agree 100%!


07/31/2013 03:13 pm

What IS natural link building? (And don"t tell me what it's not ;) ) I'm quite curious of knowing *successful* and *reproductible* natural linkbuilding strategies (no link bait !)

or zilberman

08/01/2013 06:19 am

Google is already losing a bit of it's traffic for Bing which is showing some increase. People will finally notice that all they see is Google properties and results, the feeling is already as if Google is a search Engine for which ad suits you best. They already took Down the organic listings to be around 20% of the page so 60% ads? While still the organic results show images inside Google, YouTube videos from Google, Wikipedia and some Google products on the way.


08/03/2013 09:31 am

Hope your guess doesn't become a reality


08/06/2013 12:29 pm

i have new rules for google. Ads above fold is bad, bad organic serp is bad, only big brands in organic serp is bad. Spam promotion (like google chrome, etc), serp manipulation and promotion via black/white list is bad. So google, follow my rules or you will banned. You already destroyed your reputation, you need just few more small steps to all webmasters start hating you!


08/06/2013 12:33 pm

there is no such thing as white hat. if you build any link yourself to your website, it mean you are blackhat. It very convenient for google (like for government, fighting with not real problems, but with "something")

Joe Bergess

08/06/2013 12:58 pm

Organic, natural link building means by definition NOT building links yourself. No such thing as white hat? That actually gave me a chuckle.

Jason Higgins

08/06/2013 12:59 pm

No such thing as white-hat, but there is such a thing as black hat? Look out everyone, we have an expert on our hands! What a twit.


08/06/2013 01:56 pm

exactly. i just show how convenient google position about "hats" and "spam"

naveen goyal

08/07/2013 10:07 am

google become unnatural search engine. If some guy will make website, him never will know what keyword rich anchors is unnatural by google version.

Robert O'Haver

08/07/2013 05:22 pm

If you have a good friendly URL structure you will not need anchor text. I believe the stress is on exact match anchor text.

Coby Carson

08/14/2013 08:03 am

What exactly is natural link building then, when you're trying to point from an external website that accepts hosting of your post for free? That external site isn't yours and 9 times out of 10 the webmaster will want money for hosting your content. Even if this is made "no-follow", I've still paid! That must be ok, otherwise no one has a cat in hell's chance!


08/21/2013 04:45 am

Obviously Google wants us to start buying sitewide footer links in bulk. Perhaps some of those ad-box links too. Link directories are obviously in as well. If your kw is viagra, use the anchor "blue cats on the moon every Friday". This is a sure recipe for serp domination.

Yogita Aggarwal

09/13/2013 11:24 am

Might be .. Can't say its Google :)


10/04/2013 01:25 pm

Yes i think so they are big plans in their mind to promote paid ads only and in SERPS only big brands dominates.

Jannatul Ferdous Shumi

10/24/2013 06:18 am

The fact is totally confusing. When we are trying to edit our previous work according to Google guidelines we are losing our ranking. What is good and what is bad now totally unpredictable to me.


05/31/2014 08:54 am

What about internal links? I see sites linking their categories/tags to words in the articles. Obviously this is done to grab the link juice. Is this black hat or good navigation?


06/04/2014 07:04 am

internal linksis always good if not over optimized

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